07 June 2006

Monsters be here....

“Europe is a huge area spanning over 50 countries,” helpfully explains the first line of the Hoffman Europe home page to its bible-bashing, gun-toting US audience.

“The key to successful European media relations is to work with an agency that knows the region inside out and out. An agency that understands the breadth and diversity of the target audience; an agency that knows that what works well in one country won’t necessarily work well in another."

Lucky for naïve American clients then, Hoffman has Europe covered. It has an office in Egham, one in Munich (that’s in Germany) and in March opened an office in Paris (France, where they make cheese).

Serving European IT titans such as Dimatex (ink jet printheads for commercial and industrial printing) and Visionael (a leading provider of network asset management solutions), Hoffman shares its European understanding through an illuminating Q&A on European PR:

Q: How does IT PR in Europe differ from IT PR in other parts of the world?
A: Europe is an extremely diverse region, comprising over 50 countries. It is therefore difficult to pin point specific differences as every country within Europe has its own way of doing things.

I see….

Q: What are the common mistakes made with European PR programmes?
A: The most common mistake is to assume that all of Europe is the same. It is not. Each country has its own way of executing PR programmes and what works well in one European country won’t necessarily work well in another.

OK, I’m getting the picture….

Q: Where are the journalists based?
A: Most journalists are based in the main cities of Europe - London, Paris, Milan.

Perhaps the Q&A was written before the Paris office opened (and after the Milan one closed?)....

Q: Do European reporters differ from the rest of the world?
A: Yes. As a general rule, European reporters like to be seen as independent and impartial. This is especially true of UK reporters. Pet hates: sales language; PR puff and favoritism.

Bit of a slur on American journalists. And it misses out American spellings as a pet hate….

Q: What are the cultural pitfalls to avoid?
A: This varies from country to country and it’s always wise to seek specific advice. In Spain, for example, it is acceptable to offer reporters gifts as a way of thanking them for attending a press event. In the UK, reporters would consider this tantamount to bribery and would be offended.

Not in my experience…..

Q: How important is it to speak the local language?
A: It is always preferable to speak the local language.

Well bugger me sideways with a large bratwurst….

Q: Should press material be translated?
A: As a general rule, yes, especially if the material is not in English.

I’ve read this 100 times and it still makes me laugh….

Q: What are the key countries in Europe?
A: UK, Germany and France. Secondary countries include The Netherlands, Italy and Spain.

And how they love being called secondary countries….

Q: What is the best way to work with European PR agencies?
A: Using a single agency to work directly with the pan-European press is often very successful, especially where product releases form the majority of the media output and where the objective is predominantly sales enquiries.

I think we know where this is headed….

One solution is to appoint a 'Lead Agency' in Europe which will act as the single interface. The Lead Agency will associate agencies in the various European countries in which you operate, and co-ordinate and manage all activity, reporting back to you on a regular basis.

Wow, good thinking....

Of course the location of the lead agency is important.

I can imagine….

From a language standpoint, many US companies appoint UK-based agencies

I see….

But there are good arguments for the lead agency to be situated elsewhere in Europe

I’m sure; otherwise this would be a blatant piece of self-promotion….

For example in a country where the company's European headquarters is based

And for American companies that would be….wow, exactly the same country as Hoffman’s European headquarters….hurrah….

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